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How I Review Film

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Dearest Reader, 

My name is Ethan Wheeler and I am the individual who writes the words you see on your screen. If you’re reading this, then it likely means you’ve somehow found your way to my website and are curious to know what I think about films and filmmaking. Or, perhaps more precisely, you would like to know whether you should spend 2 hours of your limited time and $7 of your hard-earned cash at the theater. I endeavor to relieve you of your curiosities by spending my time and my hard-earned cash for you. 

These reviews of mine are structured in tiers. The first tier is an overview of the review at the top. Overviews detail only the film’s information like who the filmmakers are, the runtime, the genre and motifs present, any content warnings, etc. The overview is there simply to allow people to know enough about the film to decide if they’re going to see it.  The rest of the review is reserved for people who are willing to become biased for or against the film (if one were willing to overlook the bias-inducing nature of a scored rating). 

The next tier is a general review. I’ll be giving initial thoughts about the film outside of the formal analysis for the purposes of “tie breaking”. Did I enjoy watching the film regardless of the score I gave it? What do I think is most enjoyable or interesting about the film? No analysis of whether or not the film is good because...sometimes, a film is enjoyable regardless of how poorly a critic may score it (I’m looking at you Shrek the Third). 

The final tier is a formal, "spoiler-free" analysis. I judge a film based on five criteria: Narrative, Cinematography, Film Design, Performances, and Editing. “Film Design” is a conglomeration of lights, sound, VFX, costumes, etc...anything that would affect how the film looks and sounds without movement or character action. I believe these 5 categories provide ample understanding into the quality of a film and cover the vast majority of categories not seen here (i.e. direction and production/marketing). "Spoiler-free" is in quotations because any analysis of a film could potentially spoil any uniqueness the film had going for it. My recommendation (with everything, not just these reviews of mine) is read up to the general thoughts and no further - - after watching/deciding not to watch the film, come back and read the Criterion Analysis.

Each category is scored out of 10 based on the level of skill it would take to make the film 1 being amateurish and 10 being legendary. Once scores for the 5 categories are assigned, the sum of those scores determine the comprehensive score. A comprehensive score above 35 is worth going to see, under 25 is not worth your money/time, and 25-35 is the area where whether you have fun or not is a coin flip (check “general thoughts” for tie breakers). 

And that’s that. Write to you soon. .

With love, 


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